by Mohammed Nejmi
An “openended future” on the face of it does include such things as cancer, various foreign invasions and freeway crashes, and the end of our “way of life” generally. This is alarming to say the least. These unpleasant things also are probably more common than, say, winning the lottery and getting big inheritances and so on. So it is important, say the Sufis, to recognize that at bottom the problem is one of dealing with fear. This is the sort of thing that the Muslim Iraqis are putting up with now, and since as the Sufis contend no human experience is without value, their experience may in the end be useful to us in America and Europe too. Altogether then, anger, fear, greed and lust (and. according to the Dervish Si’ Smit’, er, Smeeth, laziness) are the big boogiemen of the Sufis. This is because of their harmful effects, both morally and especially on the human relationship with the future — and, most of all, with an unimpeded connection with all that lies ahead beyond human being. There is nothing wrong with prudent and ordinary care in life’s everyday affairs of course. But please note that here too caution is in order. This life in fact does come to an end. This thorough thwarting of the well-known individual human willfulness is symbolized in the West of course by the nursing home “experience.” These clear signs of the severe limits on creatures persist in spite of all immature denial, and so the intelligent person naturally realizes that there is more going on than just present defensiveness. Present methods of material self protection are no good in the long term anyway. After all by definition the new forms of life (“attacks on humanity!”) that lurk in the future cannot easily be foreseen, no more than the present destiny and plans for instance of China and the great Turkish peoples can be successfully planned against any longer by Americans, using for example the rather weary retirement planning and stockmarket methods of the “here and the now.” Life is a brief and fragile thing. By its very nature the “present” can only yield its full benefits in Dr, Hawking’s “light cone” in time ahead, so to speak. In the face of plain facts, then, it is part of the Sufi enterprise in our cultural history to give people information with which they can mold their thoughts and actions, as some of these realizations begin to arise. This is the root then of the oldtime religious proscriptions in monotheism, against interest and debt. We all know now of course that “wealth creation” is fostered by interest and debt. As Joseph Conrad wrote, we are after all “the grownup children of a naughtier age.” So that wrapped up in our play we forget rather easily that these monetary things as such play out over time too, everytime. Every cycle on another level however leaves to the future an additional gain in human knowledge and understanding, but even so the devote Muslim of today for example abhors debt and interest with a bitter passion. This reactionary passion is essentially a factor of the evolving emotional, or religious, and intellectual temperament of mankind say the Sufis, and so of course the message is still conveyed to many in religious terms, in the voice of God: “Do NOT do that!”
As an evolutionary matter, now, those who do not need the religious crutch any more because of other better scientific methods are thus dealing all over again on behalf of us all with these same essentially moral and creative questions, as is being demonstrated right now by postmodern and postreligious Americans all over the place during the present economic collapse of other less mature fantasies.
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription-rights reserved
[19 October 2008]